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Laura Petrovich-Cheney processes events that wear down spirits and materials. Like the passage of time itself, natural disasters remind us of our vulnerability and the inevitability of loss. Petrovich-Cheney crystallizes and commemorates the collective trauma of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, and the fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In the aftermath of upheaval, she collects wooden debris: two-by-fours, strips of molding and trim, bits and pieces of boards that were once boxes or signs for family businesses, familiar brands, local institutions. These remnants remind us of place and time—home and neighborhood, before and after.
Working within the quilt idiom, Petrovich-Cheney creates colorblock jigsaws of rectangles and triangles. Trained as a sculptor, she transforms scraps of wood into luminous, quilt-like constructions that belie the opacity and crudeness of their material. Her work conjures stained glass windows, lattices, and chinks in walls—scrims that afford deep views beyond themselves. Some pieces are vortices that draw us in, while others keep their colorful contents a secret, like the shuttered windows of summer buildings. These wood “quilts” are rigid but wavy, with blocks of uneven height and surfaces in various states of distress. They remind us of textiles’ potential for monumentality, while demonstrating the intimacy of the most prosaic of building materials.
-Lydia Neuman, IQSCM Head of Exhibitions